Sidharth Vardhan

Ambedkar’s legacy

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B. R. Ambekar

Rajnath Singh‘s statement “Because of the rampant misuse of the word (secularism), there  have been instances of tension in the society” was the second most hilarious thing I have  heard this week. The biggest misuse in recent times has been of words ‘Hinduism’ and quote ‘Bhartiya Sanskriti’ (the phrase never stops being funny) – we all know who is misusing them.

Rajnath Singh also holds credits for the third most hilarious statement – that BR Ambedkar had never thought of putting the term ‘secularism’ in the Preamble as it was “in-built in the Indian system”. I mean, if it was in-built, the amendment only made it more explicit – far easier to understand. Right? Why is so much concerned about it? To think that this guy is our Minister of Home affairs!

The statement topping the list of hilarious statements of the week was, of course, when N. Modi announced a ‘debate’ on increased incidences of intolerance. I mean what is supposed to mean by word ‘debate’ – is he denying any increase in incidences? Or, whether or not his government will take any actions? Ask him any questions and his answers are obscure party slogans; you will never see him talking in terms of specific actions his party is taking in this regard. His speech on 28th was far better than all Kapil Sharma’s performances.

And, also, are our politicians clever enough to be able to’debate’? Did he forget that it involves intellectual effort?

And, why are both the parties trying to claim Ambedkar? Seriously how can anyone claim his legacy?

When Rajnath Singh said Ambedkar didn’t want ‘secularism’ in the constitution, why didn’t no one remind him that Ambedkar had converted to Buddhism discarding the very Hinduism that their beloved RSS is trying to promote? To quote Ambedkar himself:

“I was born a Hindu because I had no control over this, but I shall not die a Hindu.”

B. R. Ambedkar

Also, he was a human rights activist; who had fought for rights of weak – Dalits, women etc. and would have been highly critical of the incidences of increasing intolerance in the country. Above all, he was wise enough to say:

“If I find the constitution being misused, I shall be the first to burn it.”

B. R. Ambedkar

(I have always respected Ambedkar, but this statement has made him a personal hero.)

Regarding, another word Modi’s government has hated – socialism. This is what Amedkar had to say when India became the republic:

“…we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality and in social and economic rights, we will have inequality…. We must remove this contradiction or else who suffer from this inequality will blow up the structure….”

B. R. Ambedkar

Sounds pretty socialist to me.

Now, about ‘secularism’. Secularism is defined as is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries. The opposite of Secularism is religious. A government that is not secular must submit to what will be called a state-religion – like Pakistan is an Islamic state and United Kingdom is a Christian state.

If India was to be a religious state, it would be a Hindu state – and given how much Ambedkar hated Hinduism, he would have died fighting against any step in that direction. Our founding fathers were very, very, very clear on this subject.

Also, Ambedkar didn’t single-handedly draft the constitution. I’m mentioning this because it is exactly the kind of impression being formed – and, Ambedkar would have denounced such a claim himself. He was the chairman of constitution drafting committee – he was the biggest contributor, perhaps the most superior one  but not the only contributor. Had he complete control, he could probably go for complete socialism.

While we are on the subject, he was against ‘Article 370’ – One will like to ask what has either of the parties done in that direction? (This is merely an argument. I’m not against or in favor of the article, I’m no Kashmiri to decide.)

Above all, you need not do something just because Ambedkar said it. He was a rebel – and would have expected his followers to rebel against injustice. No, Mr. Rajnath SIngh, he didn’t suffered injustice; he revolted and fought back.

That none of these things relate to what is said in two days goes on to show that neither side knew what they were talking about – it goes on to show the level of, What Mr. Modi so liberally called, ‘debate’.

I don’t think that Ambedkar could have approved of the present condition of the country. He might not have burned the constitution, but he would definitely have thrown these politicians out of parliament – much like Jesus threw out priests who had made the church a ‘robber’s den’. Unlike Jesus, he would have wept.

Copyright – Sidharth Vardhan
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4 thoughts on “Ambedkar’s legacy

  1. It’s a really nice post. But I am interested to know your views on “Intolerance Issue” and about the most used words(discussed in your blog. I think we can’t blame our PM Mr. Narender Modi and government for each incidents where state government is responsible for the incidents and our government is working very well in every perspective (exceptions everywhere). Waiting for your response.

    1. There is an ancient saying that people will blame the King when they are having a bad season or when one of their cattle dies. As a leader, a person is accountable for whatever happens in areas of his jurisdiction. It was same for Prof. Manmohan SIngh. He was held accountable for Delhi rape case – and it was right thing to do. Now Mod is facing similar accountability. I think the following example will clarify what I’m trying to say:

      In September 1956, Lal Bahadur Shastri offered his resignation from railway ministry after a railway accident at Mahbubnagar that led to 112 deaths. However, Nehru did not accept his resignation. Three months later, he resigned accepting moral and constitutional responsibility for a railway accident at Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu that resulted in 144 deaths.. This second resignation was accepted.

      Now Shastri obviously didn’t actively brought those accidents – there was no active responsibility; but he felt that moral responsibility. It is this moral responsibility that Modi must accept that.

      Every single life is important – no government, of whatever party, should be allowed to escape responsibility for death of a single innocent soul by merely calling it exception. All I want is for him (or for that matter anyone from his government) to come forward and tell the nation what police actions were taken after those incidences -whether any arrests were made, what is being done to make sure they won’t happen in future etc.

      Now you might say that it would consuming into Parliament’s time -agreed. But this time, there was already a two day long debate and Modi himself delivered a speech. Instead of using the chance to tell people about corrective actions were being taken, he simply repeated obscure slogans.

      This much for moral responsibility, now for active responsibility:

      You know how Manmohan Singh was called a weak minister because he was unable to curb corruption against ministers. It was a right thing to do. Now, on same grounds; Modi is responsible for those stupid statements made by his ministers which show religious favoritism. And if Modi can’t cut on those statements made by his ministers, than he too is a weak prime-minister.

      And it is those very statements which make frantics believe that they can get away with violence. A day before voting took place, Modi Had given his last speech in front of Sri Rama’s wallpaper; that kind of thing gives a very wrong kind of message. Similarly if he felt so secular, why didn’t contested from his home constituency in Gujrat and rather chose a religious place like Varanasi? A secular nation needs a secular leader not one who has his favorites.

      There is a major revision of Indian history currently being proposed, undertaken by pseudo-scholors powered by BJP. For that too, I think Modi is actively responsible.

      As regards Hinduism, I think Hinduism is a pluralistic religion. You can’t force it into a single version. BJP would have you believe that Rama was a real person who was born at a particular place. Rabindranath saw Ramayana ‘not as a historical fact’ but as a ‘marvelous parable of reconciliation’. And Tagore was a great believers, he wrote collections of prayers. Gitanjali won Nobel prize. Although I’m at moment agnostic, I was born in Hindu brahmin family and was a Hindu in early years. There is a lot in Hindu philosophy which is simply beautiful. The Hindu scriptures offer a number of different philosophies on question of God itself – including materialism, atheism, agnosticism, dualism, monism etc.

      However Hindutava societies are simply destroying its beauty for making political advantages. They are forwarding a single and a bad version of Hindu belief and forcing it on all.

      As to Bhartiya Sanskriti or Indian culture:

      Culture is simply life-style, arts and values that people of a particular region adopt in a particular age represent. And culture is something that must always change – you can’t pick up culture of a particular period and want to retain it forever. Indian society has gone a number of changes in history, it is stupid to try to freeze it now. Just think about it, if our ancestors who used to live on tress had tried to retain their culture; we still would have been jumping around on trees.

      Moving forward means change. There is only one way traffic in time. The things being done on name of ‘Indian Culture’ only try to hold us back in some ancient time zone – only increasing frustation of people.

      Harappan civilisation, Vedic civilisation, Maurayan and later Mughal empire prospered; because they were open to change and even foreign ideas. Arabs grew to power in medival times because they didn’t rejected Indian numerals as ‘foreign’ and quickly adopted them. Europe gain power to rule the world when it accepted change in form of industrial revolution, renaissance and reformation. Similarly USA has grown to power because it has been open in its recent past.

      However when these very civilization developed a need to preserve their culture they lost prosparity.

      When India had last refused change on grounds of cultural preservation, it had ended up being a colony of a tiny island. When Arabs developed a need to ‘preserve their culture’ they have fallen to world’s scorn for denying citizen rights to its people. Europe on developing that same ‘need for preserving its culture’ fell to nationalistic wars.USA is now developing that stupid sense of culture. May be, it too will retard. I don’t want that to happen to India -again.

      You may want to check this blog I just added (was written long ago for Goodreads):

      Thanks for reading my blog. I guess this comment has run longer than review. I might add some of its content to the blog itself.

      1. Hello Sidharth, It’s very nice explanation and appreciate it. But if you read the first part of your answer then you will find that you are contradicting yourself. I mean Mr. Manmohan was blame in Delhi Rape case because he was the prime minister at that time and Delhi is the Capital of India. Delhi Police works under the Home Ministry of India. But in UP case; total responsibility of the incidents are UP government and Police. If we see the things in the context of morality then also it is not right because UP police works under the UP government if government take any serious action then it becomes a “STATE RIGHT” issue.
        If we talk MR. MODI JI speech in front of Lord RAMA picture then it’s totally a personal choice like we never raise our finger on Mr. Hamid Ansaari and Other famous Muslim Leaders for their actions when they dis-respect the nation for the religion.
        Yes, your point regarding to control the MP’s for their derogatory remarks is totally acceptable and their is need of more work and control.

        Thanks for such a wonderful explanation and a healthy discussion.
        Hey Sidharth, Can we meet ? It will be a good fun with such a amazing personality like you.

  2. About that contradiction, you are right. My bad. You had me caught in error with that ‘state subject’ issue, it is kind of intelligent argument i could like to hear more. Manmohan Singh’s was than a MORE than moral responsibility. (I was wrong when I called it merely moral.)

    Moral responsibility though has got nothing to do with jurisdiction. The mere fact that you hold any power over people makes you responsible for their happiness. The ancient kings didn’t have control over rains, yet they were blamed whenever people find themselves starving due to lack of rains.

    Instead of Manmohan Singh’s example (which was wrong) let me replace with a far better example:

    In USA, like in India, there is a federal division of subjects. Law and Order there too is a state subject (our founding fathers took the idea of federal division from USA). Still Barack Obama addressed press about Connecticut school massacre and actually wept. Why did he felt a need to address press? may be, because, even if very indirectly, he felt morally responsible.

    The center and state are supposed to exercise checks-and-balances on each other, if a state government fails in an area this also means that center failed to make them check their error. (one simple check is finances, center refused loan to Panjab after later failed to take proper fiscal measures) Similarly people who voted for those governments are also responsible morally.

    On a larger scale, Obama wanted US people to revisit the gun culture developing among them (second amendment, movies, video-games etc.) because that culture created those shooters. May be in letting such a culture develop and survive, Americans were somehow morally responsible.

    Now take this example to India. Whether it is the rape case or it is the acts of intolerance happening in some remote parts, we as people have created that kind of culture – where culprits are likely to get away with such acts. We did all feel sad regarding those incidences – a lot of us rightly reflected upon our traditional values (the way Obama did) …. but, I guess those things will keep on happening, as long as we do not start feeling guilt instead of mere remorse over such incidences.

    And so in acts of intolerance, all I want from Modi (or one of his main subs) is one such gesture showing his reaction to his situation … it need not be tears, it could be frustration, anger at the culprit – whatever his nature reaction is. What I want is that if people are thinking, feeling something, they know their leader feels the same – if people don’t see him react in a good manner, they will assume worse .. they always do.

    It is his emotional distancing that worries me …. I had same problem with Manmohan Singh as well. (on a more practical side, an angry reaction will create some kind of fear among anarchists by telling them that there are powerful are explicitly against them.) Chankya had similar conviction, merely doing right things is not enough … a leader of people must ALSO BE SEEN doing good things.

    And it is my problem with Rama’s wallpaper. I’m not saying it WILL threaten all the minorities, all I’m saying is that there may be a section of innocent people who might feel threatened by the gesture in a country where religious violence has killed zillions (partition, emergency, Ayodhya etc.).

    If you allow with this possibility, than I ask was the act worth the risk? Modi’s slogan is ‘India First’ and nation ‘India’ could derive no tangible benefit from the gesture (of speech before poster) but India may face risk if some of its people feeling alienated. Yes, it was a personal choice – agreed, but a choice not without consequences. A leader is watched every moment, Vikas, a good leader knows his life is not his own.

    And, we should raise finger on whoever is disrespecting the nation for religion whatever community they may come from. INC governments were too easy on minorities. Muslim men are to date allowed multiple marriages because of some stupid medieval tradition … there are human right activists among Muslims themselves who have questioned the law that permits such sexist laws. It was wrong from all previous governments not to have changed the law.

    Yes, I could love to meet you. I live in Panjab, am often in Ludhiana. From your web link I couldn’t find – where are you from?

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